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Choosing Music For Reading

Jennifer Czepiel

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Leisure reading may not be the top type of book time on your list this week. As we move into finals week and spent last minutes, or maybe hours, on those text books, what are some tips and tricks for retaining that precious information that could save your grade this semester?

Just like when reading for fun, make book time, quiet time. This does not mean you cannot have some music playing, or have some mild background noise. Some research has even shown that having complete silence makes it more difficult to focus. If you are the type that needs some aural activity during reading time, it is not always wise to go for your typical sounds.

Music with lyrics should be avoided as much as possible. It is difficult enough to remember what is on the page without a lyrical conversation tugging at your attention. And, yes, it is very likely that the hook to that latest hit is far more interesting than the science lesson on the page.

Try choosing music that is entirely instrumental. This does not necessarily mean you must be filling your ears with classical tunes that go back further than the history you are trying to memorize. There are plenty of upbeat, and up to date instrumental pieces as well. Check out pieces by 2Cellos, Escala, or Beats Antique, for interesting and modern background sounds.

Consider your mood as well as your text. Reading and relating back through sounds can help a lot as well. If you are working on something high energy, or highly explosive, like those chemistry notes, or the accounts of historic battles, get your mind in the mood with something heavier. In the case of something more relaxed or requiring your mind to work through things more slowly, slower beats may be beneficial.

No matter what you are listening to be considerate of those studying around you. Headphones are great no matter where you study. If you are working with a group, take a moment to create a study buddy playlist. You may learn more than the answers to that next test. Music can tell us quite a lot about the people we think we know.

Music has been known to not only assist with focus and retention, it can also help with recollection. If music is allowed during testing, request something similar to what you studied to, or listen to the same playlist just prior to the testing.

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